Poor sexual health is now a major public health issue in the UK, with all four countries having a sexual health strategy, strategic framework or action plan in place. The Government in England wishes to improve sexual health services, with a focus on improving access.

All over the country nurses are working in new and innovative ways in sexual and reproductive health. Many are working in advanced and specialist clinical roles as independent practitioners and more creative posts are being developed in the National Health Service to maximise optimum use of nurses' skills. Several Nurse Consultant posts have now been developed in the speciality of Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM).

With this important public health agenda in mind, this book provides a valuable resource for nurses working towards, and at, advanced level in GUM, but the content is also transferable and relevant to nurses working in non-acute settings.

This book also provides a skill base for more junior nurses in GUM to aspire to. Using a competency-based approach, many GUM nurses could develop their practice to an advanced level, using nurse prescribing and/or patient group directions to complement the level of service they provide.

I welcome the publication of this book, as I firmly believe, that historically there has never been a better time for nurses to develop their roles in GUM and sexual health, to drive forward improvements and to lead service delivery in this challenging, changing and dynamic area of health in the twenty-first century.

Anita Weston

Nurse Consultant in Genito Urinary Medicine Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

London July 2006

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